Fumbles costly for ‘Cats in road loss at Carterville
The Anna-Jonesboro Community High School football team couldn’t recover from two lost fumbles which resulted in touchdowns in the opening quarter in a 35-7 loss to host Carterville Friday, Sept. 23.
“We had three fumbles and two in the first quarter and one in the second,” A-J football coach Brett Detering said. “You can’t make those mistakes.
“But I told people all week long it would be a difficult match up and they are not a 1-3 team,” the Wildcat coach noted.
The Lions were also celebrating their homecoming and with the win improved to 2-3 overall, while the Wildcats fell to 4-1.
After Carterville was halted on its opening drive and forced to punt, the A-J offense machine appeared to be on track.
The Wildcats moved to midfield but were halted on a fumble. Five plays later, Carterville’s Markas Lazdinis scored on a 3-yard plunge. The ensuing extra point kick was good and the Lions held a 7-0 lead with 3:41 remaining in the first quarter.
It marked the first time all season that A-J had trailed in a game.
Another fumble set up the next Lion score. Carterville quarterback Damian Miller connected with Alex Griffin for a 28-yard TD pass after a five-play drive. The extra point kick put the Lions ahead 14-0 with :57 remaining in the first quarter.
Early in the second quarter, another Wildcat fumble turned the ball over. However, the Lions were forced to punt and it appeared A-J was finally on the move.
But after an 11-play drive, the Wildcats were halted on the Lions’ 1-yard line on a fourth down.
“We had a chance to score then and get the ball back to start the half,” Detering said. “If we score then, that changes things. In high school sports, that’s a big momentum thing.”
After one play, quarterback Miller scampered 95 yards for a TD. The extra point kick put the Lions on top 21-0 with 1:11 remaining in the second quarter.
“We didn’t defend him very well and he breaks one,” Detering said. “We just never got any breathing room.”
After the teams traded punts to open the third quarter, the Wildcats’ offense finally began moving.
In a 9-play drive that was fueled around a pass from quarterback Bryce Osman to Clint Clover and a good run by Osman, he then connected with Damien Chrisp for a 21-yard TD pass.
Sheldon McGrath’s extra point kick pulled A-J to 21-7 with 1:58 remaining in the third quarter.
Following a false start penalty against A-J on the ensuing Lion drive, Miller scored on a 58-yard TD run. The extra point kick boosted Carterville to a 28-7 advantage with 1:35 remaining in the quarter.
After the Wildcats were stopped midfield, Miller capped another brief Lion drive with a 13-yard TD run to close out the scoring with 6:30 remaining in the game.
Miller, who was a reserve quarterback playing for suspended signal caller Harley Vaughn, led the Lions’ 331 yard rushing attack with 238 yards in 17 carries. He scored three TDs and was 2 of 4 passing for 30 yards.
“We didn’t defend him very well,” Detering said. “He was a pretty good weapon to go to. It seemed like every snap was going to him. We just didn’t stop their big plays.”
Osman led A-J’s 254 yard rushing attack with 99 yards in 20 carries. Jayce Turner added 64 yards on 16 carries and Dylan Fox 34 yards on 4 carries. Clinton Clover had 32 yards on 8 carries and Trenton Turner added 25 yards on 9 carries.
Osman was 3 of 9 passing for 54 yards.